The last time Jim Gillespie and Kevin Williamson collaborated on a movie was I Know What You Did Last Summer, a film in which the only redeeming values were Jennifer Love Hewitt's heaving bosoms.
It shouldn't have been that way. In 1997, Williamson was the writer who was going to resuscitate the horror flick, having just come off the massive success of Scream. As a result, there was huge anticipation surrounding his follow-up script, Summer, and raging disappointment when it featured none of the pop culture savvy and originality of Scream. Williamson's career hasn't fully recovered.
Gillespie and Williamson -- this time as a producer -- reunite for Venom and you would think they would have learned some things the second time around. Apparently not, as they re-package a lame concept for a new generation in the hopes that moviegoers either have short memories or are stupid enough not to notice the same meal served on a different plate.
The villain in Summer sported a hook; the one in Venom fancies a crowbar. Lots of good-looking teens got slashed in 1997; the same buff and beautiful teens meet similar fates in 2005. The endings of the two movies are almost identical. Even star Agnes Bruckner's chest gives Hewitt's a run for its money.
As in Summer, a car accident in a small town sets the tragic events in motion, though the one in Venom involves a voodoo priestess and a surly mechanic. Long story short, the mechanic becomes possessed by a group of snakes infested with evil spirits, turning him into a remorseless, unstoppable killing monster with a passing resemblance to a member of the Blue Man Group.
Bruckner plays one of the high school kids who is soon in one chase scene after another. The voodoo angle gets explored intermittently by writers Brandon Boyce, Flint Dille, and John Zuur Platten (the latter two from Constantine), but not enough to make it a working, effective element. There also isn't one interesting character (including Method Man's deputy) in the bunch, which, given all the dead space between the gouging and disemboweling, doesn't prevent the attention span from wandering.
At one time it seemed incomprehensible that Williamson would be part of such a dull, painful project. With Scream he capitalized on the fact that real people in real danger is what's scary. Look at Halloween's vulnerable teens, Carrie's prom scene. In Venom, there is voodoo mumbo jumbo, another unstoppable killer, and 25-year-old teenagers. Venom's villain may be undead, but this movie is dead from scene one.